TMJ Disorder Physiotherapy in Toronto

TMJ Physiotherapist Toronto

TMJ Disorder Physiotherapy in Toronto

TMJ Disorder Physiotherapy in Toronto

TMJ Physiotherapist TorontoThe temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the main joint that allows side to side and up and down movement of the upper and lower jaw when chewing food, talking or even yawning.

TMJ Disorder (TMD)  is any disturbance in the alignment or articulation of the joint which results in moderate to severe jaw pain and tenderness and interferes with the joint’s functionality. Additionally, TMJ may cause tenderness and agonizing pain at the temples during or after any activity that involves jaw movement such as chewing, or opening the mouth wide.

Signs and Symptoms of TMJ Dysfunction:

Symptoms of TMJ develop over time and lead to serious disability if left untreated.  In most cases, simple behavioral modifications may help resolve the primary issue.  More serious TMJ disorders, however, will have to be treated by surgical intervention or by the use of dental procedures such as bruxism splints.

The following signs and symptoms are characteristic of TMJ Disorder:

  • moderate to severe jaw pain or lower face pain;
  • aching or sharp pain and tenderness along the ears and temples;
  • difficulty chewing food properly due to pain and limitation of mouth opening;
  • locking or stiffness of the jaws which may also be associated with a grating sensation;
  • recurrent headaches especially pronounced after eating;
  • limited motion or strength of jaws due to uneven or pre-mature contact of upper and lower jaw bones.

Other marked symptoms of TMJ are swelling of the face; headaches; neckaches; and earachesthat may progress to ringing in ears or hearing issues.

How does TMJ Disorder develop?

TMJ disorders are fairly common and may be caused by:

  • arthritis or inflammatory conditions of the temporomandibular joint;
  • high force impact on the jaws during accidents or fist fights
  • damage to muscle fibers or fatigue of tissues as a result of prolonged and persistent mastication, teeth grinding or overworking muscles that support and stabilize the temporomandibular joint
  • damage, injury or dislocation of soft cartilaginous tissue that stabilizes the temporomandibular joint.

The temporomandibular joint is an example of hinge joint in which movements are permitted because of the proper alignment of the maxillary bone, the mandibles and the shock absorbing cartilage that protects the joint from damage due to stress and/or pressure.

Disc displacement is the most common form of Temporomandibular Jjoint Disorder.  It involves the forward or backward displacement of the articular disc which leads to direct contact of the articulating bony surfaces of the mandibles and temporal bone during muscle movement. This greatly increases the risk of tissue damage and is very painful.

A rather common variant of disc displacement is anterior disc displacement with reduction.  This is marked by a popping or clicking sensation on opening the mouth.  The cause of anterior disc displacement is the internal degeneration or misalignment of bones. The mandibular condyle lies anterior to the articular disc.  When the mouth is open, the mandibular condyle slides back to align with the articular disc, producing a characteristic clicking sound. When the mouth is closed, the condyle slides backward, causing a disconnection that is marked by another popping sound as the condylar head moves behind or to the posterior of the articular disc.

Disc displacement without reduction is characterized only by pain with no popping or clicking sensation.  It limits the range of motion of the temporomandibular joint during muscle movement because the condylar head remains posterior to the articular disc at all times.

Who is at risk for Chronic TMJ Disorder?

While current research shows no socio-ecomonic group is more susceptible to chronic TMJ than any other, there is some indication that individuals who suffer from chronic TMJ are more likely to be women between the ages of 20 to 40 years of age which relates to child-bearing years.  Men in the same age range are not more likely to be chronic sufferes.

Some chronic Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ) sufferers appear to be more genetically sensitive to stress. Certain inherited or acquired bone issues (such as chronic fatigue syndrome, facial bone  disorders, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis) also increase the likelihood of chronic Temporomandibular Joint Disorder.

What are your treatment options?

As a rule of thumb, the earlier symptoms of TMJ are alleviated with prescribed physiotherapy exercises and/or behavioral modification, the less likely more extreme treatments will be necessary. Minor cases of TMJ require no treatment and usually resolve spontaneously.  If the pain and stiffness, however, do not go away and begin to interfere with daily activities, consider trying the following:

Lifestyle Modifications: Avoid habits and activities that increase the pressure on the temporomandibular joint. Do not chew sticky or hard food such as chewing gums.Avoid opening your mouth wide. Use applications of warm or cold compresses to relieve joint swelling and inflammation.

Medications and Surgical Intervention:  Anti-inflammatory medications also help alleviate pain and stiffness involving the temporomandibular joint.  Other medications that may be helpful include muscle relaxants and, in acute pain attacks, steroids.  We recommend consulting with your Medical Physician or Pharmacist regarding pharmaceutical options.

Bruxism Splints: Bruxism splints are devices that help prevent additional stress and strain on temporomandibular joint by preventing unnecessary activity of the jaw muscles during sleep. Your dentist will provide you with dental splints or a bite guard device that prevents teeth grinding during sleep. A dental work-up may also be necessary and broken crowns and correct misaligned teeth may need to be repaired to prevent teeth grinding and related TMJ issues.

Expert Physiotherapists at Ace Physiotherapy Toronto

Massage therapy: Gentle Massage Therapy of the muscles of mastication including the masseter, pterygoid and diagastrics, can help reduce tension, and discomfort around the TMJ, and reduce popping or clicking in the jaw.

Physiotherapy: Muscle strengthening exercises increase the power and pull of mastication muscles the masseter, pterygoid and diagastrics). Passive physiotherapy exercises are helpful in improving range of motion to allow mouth opening without pain and without locking and to stabilize and strengthen the temporomandibular joint and mastication muscles.  For added convenience we offer Physiotherapy in Toronto on Saturdays and evenings!

Ace Physiotherapy offers numerous treatment options for TMJ disorder click the blue link to learn more about our TMJ Physiotherapy services.

About the Author

Brad SaltzBrad is a Registered Physiotherapist at Ace Physio, a highly respected Physiotherapy clinic in downtown Toronto. Ace Physio provides high quality one on one Physiotherapy that combined state-of-art technology such as; Shockwave Therapy, Laser Therapy, and Spinal Decompression with traditional Physiotherapy.View all posts by Brad Saltz